Archive for April 21st, 2004

CNE approves ratification process, last chance to stop Chavez?

April 21, 2004


Last night, after I had gone to bed, the CNE announced that the regulations for the ratification process for the signatures had been approved with the usual three to two vote by the members of the Board of The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE). The CNE also announced the final numbers of the signatures that are valid (1.910.965), those that are considered under observation or had problems (1.192.114). This implies that the opposition will need to have 580,231 voters show up to say they did sign the first time around. These numbers also have 83.948 more valid signatures than announced by the President of the CNE last March 2nd., but conversations between the opposition and the CNE had also indicated that there were about 100,000 more signatures that could be ratified, which have now mysteriously disappeared.


The process for the recall referendum will take place on May 27th. to 31st., with the first and last days to “set up” in another mysterious and unheard of interpretation of the regulations. There will be no fingerprint verification as had been proposed and the CNE workers manning the poling booths will use the national ID card as valid identification for the person. These workers may be able to challenge the identity of the person if there are differences.


 


The regulations contemplate the concept of “sudden death” by which once the totals are added from the electoral notebooks, that total will be announced and no challenge may be presented to the CNE on the signatures contained in them.


 


Each polling station will be manned by 2 CNE workers and two alternates and there will be one operator with its alternate. There will be a witness from each side. The polls will be opened from 6 AM to 6PM for all three days, but if there are still lines when they close on the last day, they will remain open.


 


Each polling station will have infrastructure according to its size. Since people will have to go to the same station that they signed in, the CNE knows how many signatures can be ratified in each center. Those centers with less than 100 possible signatures to ratify will have only electoral notebooks with no PC’s and one table. If the number is between 100 and 1100 there will be one notebook and one PC. There will e two notebooks and two PC’s in those with 1101 to 21000 and for those with more than 2101 there will be three tables, three notebooks and three PC’s.


 


The CNE once again said that the information with the result of each signature will be published in the newspapers, which I still want to see given that 3.4million signatures in legible format would require a phone book sized document. The re will also be a telephone number, a web page and the information will be posted in all the polling booths. There will be a total of 2659 centers for people to go to.


 


International observers will be allowed to participate in the process and former President Jimmy Carter already confirmed that the Carter Center will participate.


 


A month ago I would have been very excited with this process, today I simply can’t. I am sitting here as I write this wondering where the next trick is going to come from. Is it going to be an injunction by the Comando Ayacucho against the process? Is it going to be thousands of Chavistas going to the ratification process at the end of May to clog up the lines? Is it going to be a fraudulent procedure to say thousands of people went and said they never signed? I simply don’t know, but I know its coming, after everything that has been done to block the process I can not think the Chavistas will sit and allow us to ratify a sufficiently large number of signatures.


 


While the opposition has yet to say that they will go forward and participate, I think they will approve it. It certainly looks doable to get the less than 50% of those that signed to go and say that they did. In fact, with the appropriate mobilization it looks quite reasonable that the opposition will be successful. Basically, the opposition can identify a large number of those whose signatures can be ratified and can make the effort to encourage them to go out and even offer help when needed. Those that signed for Chavez’s recall are sufficiently motivated that this should be quite possible.


 


The Chavistas claim that they will have 250,000 to 280,000 people go and say they withdraw their signatures. The opposition thinks this an exaggeration no matter what threats are made against people. The opposition thinks this number will be around 60,000. It would seem reasonable than in the absence of tricks, the opposition will manage to drive out 60%-plus of those whose signatures have been questioned.


 


Thus, it will come down to tricks and fraud. The opposition has to be vigilant about where the tricks will come from this time around. Last time, nobody saw the problem with the same calligraphy forms, a concept that was invented once the Chavistas realized that the opposition had indeed gathered sufficient signatures to hold the recall. Somehow I think this time it will be some legal maneuvering which will stop the process sufficiently to slow it down once again. But who knows. There is also the wildcard that the Electoral hall will in the end manage to get the issue to the full Court and all of the same calligraphy forms be validated.


 


But in the end, it is hard to get excited. For months playing dirty has been the rule at the CNE. CNE Directors and the Constitutional Hall of the Supreme Court have shown they are partial to the Government and blocking the process. They have no qualms, no morals to do what is ethical, right or legal. Thus, we can expect more of the same, boding badly for the recall, the opposition and the country. This is our last chance to stop Chavez.

CNE approves ratification process, last chance to stop Chavez?

April 21, 2004


Last night, after I had gone to bed, the CNE announced that the regulations for the ratification process for the signatures had been approved with the usual three to two vote by the members of the Board of The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE). The CNE also announced the final numbers of the signatures that are valid (1.910.965), those that are considered under observation or had problems (1.192.114). This implies that the opposition will need to have 580,231 voters show up to say they did sign the first time around. These numbers also have 83.948 more valid signatures than announced by the President of the CNE last March 2nd., but conversations between the opposition and the CNE had also indicated that there were about 100,000 more signatures that could be ratified, which have now mysteriously disappeared.


The process for the recall referendum will take place on May 27th. to 31st., with the first and last days to “set up” in another mysterious and unheard of interpretation of the regulations. There will be no fingerprint verification as had been proposed and the CNE workers manning the poling booths will use the national ID card as valid identification for the person. These workers may be able to challenge the identity of the person if there are differences.


 


The regulations contemplate the concept of “sudden death” by which once the totals are added from the electoral notebooks, that total will be announced and no challenge may be presented to the CNE on the signatures contained in them.


 


Each polling station will be manned by 2 CNE workers and two alternates and there will be one operator with its alternate. There will be a witness from each side. The polls will be opened from 6 AM to 6PM for all three days, but if there are still lines when they close on the last day, they will remain open.


 


Each polling station will have infrastructure according to its size. Since people will have to go to the same station that they signed in, the CNE knows how many signatures can be ratified in each center. Those centers with less than 100 possible signatures to ratify will have only electoral notebooks with no PC’s and one table. If the number is between 100 and 1100 there will be one notebook and one PC. There will e two notebooks and two PC’s in those with 1101 to 21000 and for those with more than 2101 there will be three tables, three notebooks and three PC’s.


 


The CNE once again said that the information with the result of each signature will be published in the newspapers, which I still want to see given that 3.4million signatures in legible format would require a phone book sized document. The re will also be a telephone number, a web page and the information will be posted in all the polling booths. There will be a total of 2659 centers for people to go to.


 


International observers will be allowed to participate in the process and former President Jimmy Carter already confirmed that the Carter Center will participate.


 


A month ago I would have been very excited with this process, today I simply can’t. I am sitting here as I write this wondering where the next trick is going to come from. Is it going to be an injunction by the Comando Ayacucho against the process? Is it going to be thousands of Chavistas going to the ratification process at the end of May to clog up the lines? Is it going to be a fraudulent procedure to say thousands of people went and said they never signed? I simply don’t know, but I know its coming, after everything that has been done to block the process I can not think the Chavistas will sit and allow us to ratify a sufficiently large number of signatures.


 


While the opposition has yet to say that they will go forward and participate, I think they will approve it. It certainly looks doable to get the less than 50% of those that signed to go and say that they did. In fact, with the appropriate mobilization it looks quite reasonable that the opposition will be successful. Basically, the opposition can identify a large number of those whose signatures can be ratified and can make the effort to encourage them to go out and even offer help when needed. Those that signed for Chavez’s recall are sufficiently motivated that this should be quite possible.


 


The Chavistas claim that they will have 250,000 to 280,000 people go and say they withdraw their signatures. The opposition thinks this an exaggeration no matter what threats are made against people. The opposition thinks this number will be around 60,000. It would seem reasonable than in the absence of tricks, the opposition will manage to drive out 60%-plus of those whose signatures have been questioned.


 


Thus, it will come down to tricks and fraud. The opposition has to be vigilant about where the tricks will come from this time around. Last time, nobody saw the problem with the same calligraphy forms, a concept that was invented once the Chavistas realized that the opposition had indeed gathered sufficient signatures to hold the recall. Somehow I think this time it will be some legal maneuvering which will stop the process sufficiently to slow it down once again. But who knows. There is also the wildcard that the Electoral hall will in the end manage to get the issue to the full Court and all of the same calligraphy forms be validated.


 


But in the end, it is hard to get excited. For months playing dirty has been the rule at the CNE. CNE Directors and the Constitutional Hall of the Supreme Court have shown they are partial to the Government and blocking the process. They have no qualms, no morals to do what is ethical, right or legal. Thus, we can expect more of the same, boding badly for the recall, the opposition and the country. This is our last chance to stop Chavez.

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